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PRESS RELEASE: 82,000 girls will become child brides while leaders discuss child marriage during African Girls’ Summit

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On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November), Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage is warning that, every two  seconds[i], a girl gets married, putting her at significant risk of domestic violence and of dying while giving birth.

That’s 15 million girls every year around the world, or 28 girls every minute.

It means that 82,000 girls under the age of 18 will be married while African leaders meet to discuss child marriage at the two-day African Girls’ Summit in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, on 26th and 27th November.

Child brides are:

  • More likely to experience domestic abuse than their unmarried peers and to report that their first sexual experience was forced, because of unequal power relationships with their often older husbands.
  • Unlikely to be able to negotiate safe sex or family planning.[ii]
  • More likely to contract HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.[iii] For example, a study in Kenya and Zambia found that being married increased the chances of having HIV among sexually active 15-19 year old girls by more than 75 %[iv]
  • More likely to face pressure to have children early, and more likely to die or suffer complications giving birth. Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death in girls aged between 15 and 19 (after suicide).[v]

Girls Not Brides will be using its #MyLifeAt15 campaign during the African Girls’ Summit to build support across Africa for its call to governments to take concrete and ambitious steps to end the child marriage. By sharing photographs and people’s aspirations at the age of 15, the campaign highlights how child marriage puts a dramatic stop to girls’ dreams.

Girls Not Brides Executive Director Lakshmi Sundaram says; “We applaud the African Union for recognising that child marriage is depriving millions of girls across the continent of a future. But it is time for this recognition to turn into action if we want to protect future generations of girls.

“The continent has some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Unless African governments provide resources and services to support girls at risk, work with families and communities, put in place and enforce adequate policies and laws, child marriage will double by 2050. Sub-Saharan Africa will become the region with the highest number of child brides in the world. The future of Africa’s daughters and the prosperity of the continent itself is at stake.”

New figures show that the global target (established in the Millennium Development Goals) for reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent has been missed[vi]. The analysis reveals that in sub-Saharan Africa, 546 mothers still die for every 100,000 live births. Experts agree that reducing child marriage would bring about a significant drop in deaths as a result of childbirth.

The African Union Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage and General Secretary, of World YWCA, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda said:

“Let’s be clear that child marriage is child abuse. It is a basic violation of children’s human rights that has devastating consequences for their health, their futures and their communities.

The African Union has a common position on child marriage. Let’s enforce it. At the same time, let’s not forget the millions of girls who are already married, many of whom are young mothers. We need to provide them with the information, education and services they need to live healthy and empowered lives.”

People in more than 144 countries have taken part so far. Following the International Day of the Girl Child in October 2015, the African Union Girls’ Summit will provide another opportunity for individuals all over the continent to remind their governments of their responsibility and commitments to girls around the world.

Girls Not Brides can provide interviews, case studies, images and background on child marriage in Africa and the rest of the world.

Media contact:

Mallary Gelb,  +44 7500864871 @GirlsNotBrides

Maryam Mohsin,, +447436095435, @GirlsNotBrides

Editor’s Notes

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 550 civil society organisations from over 75 countries committed to ending child marriage around the world and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.

[i] UNICEF, Ending Child Marriage: Progress and Prospects, 2014

[ii] Levine, R., Lloyd, C., Greene, M., & Grown, C., Girls Count: A Global Investment and Action Agenda. Washington DC: Center for Global Development, 2008

[iii] Bruce, J. Child marriage in the context of the HIV epidemic New York: The Population Council), 2007

[iv] Clark, S. (2004). “Early Marriage and HIV Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Studies in Family Planning 35(3) pp. 149-160.

[v] WHO, Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative, 2014;UNFPA, Motherhood in Childhood – Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy, 2013. Nove,A, Matthews Z, Neal S, Camacho AV. Maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women of other ages: evidence from 144 countries. Lancet Global Health 2014

12.11.2015se:l their potential.orld and voice.ntries have taken part and it continues to grow.

[vi] The Lancet 2015